Chegg, a textbook rental company, will be taking down CourseRank on Nov. 30, removing with it any previous course reviews and grade distribution data.
Started by three Stanford students in 2007, CourseRank was dedicated towards helping students plan their academic careers. The web platform provided features that included course ratings and reviews, organizational planners and online scheduling tools. Since its inception, CourseRank became a prevalent resource for college students at many colleges, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke and Cornell.
However, on August 2010, CourseRank was acquired by Chegg to complement the company’s already established online textbook rental and tutoring services. CourseRank was just one of many platforms that Chegg would come to acquire in the following years; they also acquired Cramster.com, Student of Fortune and Zinch.
“We’re focused on helping students navigate through college, make good choices, help them save time, save money and get smarter,” said Usher Lieberman, the vice president of communications at Chegg.
“The intention in acquiring businesses back then was to grow out the services we could provide to students…[and with CourseRank] we acquired a very small focus; one way to describe it would be an acqui-hire,” Lieberman added.
Because of CourseRank’s high visibility and following within the Stanford community, some students find the shutdown of the website a surprise.
“I was kind of bummed because it was a good place to go to find out whether that would be too heavy of a schedule, or whether you actually needed to buy the book for the class, so you could get that all straightened out,” Monica Agrawal ’17 said.
“I used CourseRank to see if people recommended a class because there are so many great classes to take,” Agrawal said.
With this surprise, some students recognize a more significant influence CourseRank had on their years as underclassmen.
“I was really surprised because it was really helpful, and a lot of people use it even to do four-year plans,” Allison Slaughter ’15 said. “I used it a lot more freshman and sophomore year when I wasn’t as sure what I was going to take, and it was really helpful for views on classes.”
Bright P. Zhou ’16, an undergraduate student studying archeology, also supported this view.
“When I was trying to get a gauge of how hard Chem 171 was versus Chem 135 or even to get a gauge of 31X or 31A, it was really helpful having people say it was easy or it was really hard,” Zhou said. “But as a small major and as someone who doesn’t really talk to people in other classes, CourseRank doesn’t really show up.”
Though no future plans currently exist for Chegg to launch a CourseRank-related product, Chegg executives acknowledge the impact CourseRank has had on their company’s products.
“When [Chegg] was started it was solely renting textbooks to students, and we’ve definitely grown the number of services we provide students and the value we can deliver to students,” Lieberman said.
Contact Vincent Cao at vcao2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.